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IAR condemns decision to open spring hunting season in Malta

flock of spoonbills crossing over Malta

International Animal Rescue Malta has condemned a decision by the Ornis Committee, Malta’s advisory committee on conservation, to open a spring hunting season next month.
 
IAR Malta Chairman Max Farrugia said: “The fact that three government representatives all voted in favour of opening a spring season without any hesitation is a matter of deep concern for all wildlife protectionists. In our opinion their decision was motivated more by political than environmental considerations. The Ornis Committee should be a non-political body and those who sit on it should always be completely impartial.”

The vote on whether or not to recommend opening a spring season was taken after the committee had been informed of the EU Commission’s decision to launch an “EU Pilot” following numerous complaints regarding abuses in Malta of the EU Birds Directive.
 
During its meeting the Committee was presented with significant evidence of unchecked abuses by hunters during previous spring hunting seasons. This evidence was brought forward by Birdlife Malta during the meeting. 

Ironically, during recent days reports have come in of sightings of hunters near Salina marshland and even of gunshots.  Birdlife Malta received reports that spoonbills were shot at in Delimara and also in Dwejra, two notorious areas for illegal shooting. 

The sudden change in the weather over Malta had brought with it a number of migratory birds which had been wintering in the North and were attempting to continue their way to the North of Europe. Among the birds recorded during migration were marsh harriers, cranes and spoonbills.  Reports of sightings came in from the south and various parts of the north of Malta. 

Birdlife Malta, which acts on behalf of all groups and individuals concerned about the situation, will be raising the issue of spring hunting with the European Commission and will also be writing to the Prime Minister. 

Only recently 45,000 Maltese residents with the right to vote demanded a referendum on the issue. Signatures were collected by a number of groups concerned about the conservation of threatened species, including International Animal Rescue Malta.
 
The government is expected to announce in the coming days when the spring hunting season will commence. In the meantime the season is closed and all hunting is illegal.  

Max Farrugia concluded: “News of the spring hunting season is very disappointing but we’re not going to take it lying down. Conservationists in Malta have a fight on their hands against this decision and we will be meeting the challenge head on.”

Ends.

 

Two of the spoonbills that made a stop on the Maltese shores.